Watson: Support Kony 2012 efforts

Scott Watson

It is too easy to read stories of tragedy, slaughter and tyranny in the worst degree in far-off lands and let them barely elicit an emotional response. We write them off as a sad story happening a lifetime away, far beyond the breadth of our control.

A movement has begun; a stand taken by members of our generation to fight the mistreatment of our fellow humans across the globe. There is a rebel army at large in Central Africa, whose only premise is pain.

Mentally take yourself to the villages of Congo; put yourself in the position of the millions of suffering families. Nights spent lying awake in a relentless, numbing terror, waiting and straining their ears for a rustle in the darkness, an indication of danger to come.

You can faintly hear the sound of an engine roaring through the dense forest, reverberating through the valley miles behind the source. It’s a warm, muggy night; you try to ignore the ever-growing noise and go to sleep, but the sound of one engine gradually becomes two as the noise grows closer. The vehicles pull to a stop outside, while your rapidly beating heart comes to an ear-splitting crescendo loud enough to alert anyone for miles.

The voices of a few angry men can be heard giving orders, as small voices aged no more than 15 years are heard scuttling about the confines of the grounds. You desperately rack your brains for an escape route, but know there is none. By now, your mother is trying to silence the terrified whimpers of your younger sisters, and your father stands by the doorway with the axe, ready to defend his family at all costs. Everyone in that tiny hut knows what happens next.

Joseph Kony is a self-proclaimed prophet, is No. 9 on the World’s Most Wanted list and is the leader of a rebel army hiding behind the facade of Christianity in the “Lord’s Resistance Army.” This group of terrorists has been pillaging, murdering and looting villages in several countries of Central Africa since the 1980s to fuel what he claims to be a holy war.

Kony’s army preys on the villages to reload his army with supplies of stock — and flesh. The Lord’s Resistance Army enters these villages and forces boys of all ages to take up arms and join their cause or die, often forcing them to kill their own parents as initiation. Women and girls are no exception from the marauding brutality. Often raped on sight as the bruised and battered family looks on, they are typically sold into the miserable life of sex trafficking.

Terror and genocide are nothing new to the continent of Africa. These countries often remain neglected, left to suffer in the worst of ways, while countries capable of protecting the innocent look on. Instances of mass murder are littered throughout the recent history of Africa. Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army’s regime pillages the countries of the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

We are not “Team America: World Police” nor it is not our duty as American citizens to ensure the world’s happiness, nonetheless interfere with cultural differences. However, if it’s not our nationalist duty to care about the lives of innocent others, it is certainly our duty as human beings. This is not the same case as Rwanda, where a bloody civil war erupted between two tribes, resulting in millions of civilian deaths. This is much simpler — this is murder for the sake of power retention for a single man.

This African atrocity is currently being combated by U.S.-trained, counter-terrorist armies of the war-engulfed nations of the region. In October 2011, President Barack Obama authorized the departure of 100 military advisers to these armies, the mission to bring down Kony and combat the Lord’s Resistance Army. Since deployment, the advisers and their specially trained African armies have been fervently searching the hills of Africa for Kony, but to no avail.

It is rumored that Kony may have left the area altogether, leaving our comrades to venture through the countryside on a wild goose chase. If this is the case, outside support may leave the aid of these countries. This story is a minor scratch away from broken record status. George W. Bush deployed a similar group of advisers to Africa several years ago with the same objective, and when Kony fled, so too did the troops. Lo and behold, Kony came back and here we are again, in no better position than before.

Our reactions to major issues will define the initiatives our generation endorses. It will be the decisions we make today that define the issues we find relevant tomorrow. We need to vigilantly express support of the things we value. Without the continued support of these offshore efforts, the American troops and other support systems may be withdrawn, leaving the children and citizens of these countries to tremble at a far-off noise in the night.